When I was a kid I thought The Witches was the most perfect book ever written. I’m scared to revisit it now in case I found something wrong with it — which I inevitably would, so I won’t.
However, Publishers Weekly has an interesting piece after a conversation with the editor who worked on The Witches with Roald Dahl. It’s a good read in itself, for anyone interested in the process of story creation.
Here are some points I have taken away from the master of gruesome tales for kids:
- When editing don’t lose sight of how prose will sound when read aloud
- In a story featuring both adults and children, the children should come up with the bright ideas to get them all out of strife. This is what makes a story for children.
- If you’re going to write a story full of mean [women] then you should feature an especially kind [woman] to offset.
- Think of your audience. Bugger everyone else.
Darkness triggers a chain of interrelated processes, including a cognitive processing style, which is beneficial to creativity…But they also gave [subjects] four logic problems that required a great deal of analytical thinking. This time the researchers found that while creativity thrived in the dark, careful reasoning flourished in the light.
– Why Creativity Thrives In The Dark, Fast Company
…for those of us both writing and illustrating our own books. This conversation between Neil Gaiman and Shaun Tan was published a while ago, and has helped me edit my own work:
I usually refine the text last, partly because pictures are harder to do so it’s easier to edit words – I use text as grout in between the tiles of the pictures. I always overwrite, really awful, long bits of script and then I trim it down to the bare bones and then add a little bit to colour it in. At the end of all of my stories I test for wordless comprehension. So I remove the text and see if it works by itself. And if it does I feel that that’s a successful story. I don’t know if that’s an important principle but it’s helped me structure things.